Kia Piki te Ora: Whānau Wellness ~ Strengthening Whānau Māori

TitleKia Piki te Ora: Whānau Wellness ~ Strengthening Whānau Māori
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMenzies, R. Lee
Academic DepartmentTe Wānanga o Waipapa
Number of Pages242
Date Published3 June 2021
UniversityUniversity of Auckland
Thesis TypeDoctoral
KeywordsHealth, indigenous, Kaupapa Māori, transformative, wellbeing, wellness, whānau

The present research aims to explore the contemporary conceptualisation of whānau wellness for Māori living in Aotearoa New Zealand. A better understanding of what constitutes wellness for whānau is needed to inform effective policy, interventions, and measures to improve outcomes for Māori across all indices. Rooted in the broader Indigenous health and wellbeing context, this kaupapa Māori research operates within a Transformative-Indigenous paradigm. An extensive review of Māori and Indigenous wellness literature revealed a sparsity of research, and gaps in the body of knowledge around whānau-level health and wellbeing for contemporary, urban Māori. Using a qualitative design, semi-structured interviews with 33 adult Māori yielded rich descriptions of participants’ perceptions and experiences of whānau wellness. Data analysis drew on general inductive thematic analyses for interview data as well as abductive approaches to organise the themes. A follow-up hui for participants and cultural experts informed finalisation of the thematic findings and validated the whānau wellness conceptualisation. Thematic findings reveal a broad conceptualisation of whānau wellness with three major intersecting themes: personal wellbeing, a sense of whānau, and collective or whānau wellbeing. The personal wellbeing theme encapsulates seven dimensions: tinana, wairua, hinengaro, whatumanawa, te oranga, toiora, and mana ake. The sense of whānau theme constitutes four sub-themes: whakapapa, aroha, kaupapa, and whanaungatanga. Eight sub-themes emerged within the collective/whānau wellbeing theme: rangatiratanga, mauriora, waiora, whai rawa, manaakitanga, whakapakari, whakamana and āheitanga. Additionally, two key contextual themes, impact of colonisation and contemporary conditions, emerged as external barriers or challenges to whānau wellness in Aotearoa New Zealand. Building upon extant Māori models of health and wellbeing, a conceptual model of whānau wellness for contemporary, urban Māori is proposed. A relevant conceptualisation of whānau wellness is the starting point for better strategies, measures, funding, and services that promote Māori health and wellbeing. Aligning with decolonising kaupapa and strengths-based approaches, it is hoped the findings will contribute to more effective policy and practice, increasing whānau wellness levels for all Māori.